Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tip for hedging your bets on airfare

With unrest in Middle East countries resulting in frequent increases in the price of oil, booking flights for trips several months in the future can feel like playing the lottery. Do you book way out and hope you’re not paying hundreds of dollars more than current fares when you actually take the trip? Or do you wait and take a chance that fares will drop before your scheduled travel?

Yapta, the Internet site that will track a flight before before purchase and alert you when fares drop, has added a service that lets you take advantage of last-minute deals that may show up after you’ve booked your flight.  Yapta will send an email alert for any flight registered at the site if the price drops enough for the carrier to refund the difference to you.

Of course, some airlines charge a processing or rebooking fee, but if the savings is substantial it may still be worthwhile.  JetBlue and Alaska Airlines will issue a refund without any fee.  AirTran and Virgin America charge $75 while Hawaiian Airlines asseses $100 for ticket changes. Continental, United, Delta, and U.S. Airways charge $150 for domestic flights and $250 for some international flights.  Generally the refund is issued in the form of a voucher that can be used for future travel--can’t hurt to register and see what happens.

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